Egypt balloon tragedy

Insurance seller in Luxor tragedy to remind clients of exclusions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 5:11am

A teachers' union that is a licensed insurance seller will remind clients to read the exclusion clauses when buying travel policies, a senior officer says.

The Professional Teachers' Union was responding to criticism in the aftermath of a hot-air balloon accident in Luxor, Egypt, in February that killed nine Hongkongers.

Six of the nine had bought travel insurance from the union but were not covered for taking part in aviation activities such as hot-air ballooning.

The union came under fire for selling such insurance packages. Relatives of the other three victims, who had bought their policies at tour agency Kuoni Travel, received full compensation.

The union said it had told employees to remind clients of the need to read the exclusions thoroughly. "There are about 13 items," vice-president Cheung Man-kwong said. "We will also ask about their itineraries."

Insurers had advised the union that getting customers to read the entire list, rather than highlighting specific items, would reduce the chance of conflicts, Cheung said.

People who ran into problems while on holiday tended to blame insurance sellers on their return for failing to remind them of excluded activities, he said.

"Many people buy travel insurance just for a sense of security," he said. "If they fail to read the list after being reminded to do so, it's their own problem."

Many people buy travel insurance just for a sense of security. If they fail to read the list after being reminded to do so, it's their own problem

Michael Wu Siu-ieng, chairman of the Travel Industry Council, said customers would do well to buy from the agencies that organised the tours, or to show itineraries and optional activities to the insurance seller they planned to buy from. "Tour agencies are most familiar with customers' itineraries and can choose the best packages for them," Wu said.

In the accident, it was the families of the six who did not get their coverage from Kuoni, the agency that arranged the trip, who had a problem claiming compensation, he noted.

Nineteen people died when their hot-air balloon crashed in flames in Luxor on February 26.